Absolute Authority of Literary Criticism and Limited Freedom of Creative Writing: John Keats and Nikolai Gogol as Examples

Sabbar S. Sultan


The question of the paradoxical relationship and misunderstanding between literary criticism and creative literature is a time-honored one. Throughout many centuries, the creative writer has been viewed as the master of his craft, aware of its secrets and challenges so that it finally comes out as a self-contained entity. The critical faculty is often attributed to the creative writer himself such as Ben Jonson, Philip Sidney, John Dryden, Alexander Pope, Matthew Arnold, Dr. Johnson…etc. Only in the last two centuries or so, was there a kind of critical autonomy where the critic could find a niche for him/herself and show his competitive spirit with creative writers. The present paper seeks to show how certain British and Russian critics have played havoc in the lives and writings of John Keats (1795-1821) and Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852). The paper concludes by stating that literary criticism can be subversive and its aftermath might be very catastrophic. Even so, the spark of creativity will always be gleaming and enticing writers to its fascinating and seductive worlds. The paper comprises three parts. The first one is introductory in that it describes the nature of criticism, its rules, and restrictions. Also it refers to critics’ conscious or unconscious breaching of these regulations. Review of related literature helps in showing the different approaches and treatment of the current topic. The main argument explores how some literary critics in England and Russia in the nineteenth century played a malicious role in the lives and works of John Keats and Nikolai Gogol through imposing their convictions on creative writers. The conclusion is a final assessment of this complex relationship between critics and creative writers and how the misconception between the two parties is too wide to be bridged or overcome.


Critic; Creative writer; John Keats; Nikolai Gogol; Endymion

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/12602


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